Connecting without Internet Connectivity
Not everyone is online
According to the Internet World Stats, the average internet penetration rate stands at 58.7% with the highest penetration rate being in North America at 94.6% and the lowest in Africa at 39.3%. The Internet Penetration Rate corresponds to the percentage of the total population of a given country or region that uses the Internet.
What this means
This statistic means that there is a large part of the population that has limited or no access to the Internet. This figure includes Scouts who may not be able to access the tools and content that are published online using this same medium.
We’re faced here with a barrier to inclusion: how can all Scouts feel welcomed and included in our activities when we can’t reach all of them through the Internet? Luckily, there are many ways you can still connect with your Scouts offline.
This tool, designed for Scout Leaders, explores different means of connecting with Scouts offline, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
As an NSO, you can share important messages through texts (SMS). The same can apply in the case of a Scout Leader who needs to reach out to their Scouts. Make sure you have the phone contacts of the parents/guardians or caregivers of the Scouts or even the Scouts themselves for the older sections like the Rovers.
For social messaging and collecting data, you should also try U-Report, developed by UNICEF.
Personal Phone Calls
Directly calling Scouts and their parents/guardians or caregivers can also help in passing Scouting messages and programmes. A Scout Leader will need to have an updated list of phone numbers!
You can pass on Scouting messages through radios. An NSO or local group can develop a partnership with local radio stations to run specific radio programmes. Community radios would serve well especially when running community engagement initiatives. Through partnering with the radios, the NSOs or even local Scout groups can also benefit from airtime to promote Scouting and their national Youth Programme to all listeners.
Similar to radio, NSOs can partner with television stations to run documentaries or reports about Scouting and Scouting programmes with the aim of reaching out to its membership with key messages on advancing the national Youth Programme.
If Scouts live in close proximity with each other, Scout Leaders can conduct home visits to their Scouts. This can serve as a way of checking in on their personal progression and assessing any badges they may have done.
This works well with community-based Scouting or even those based in institutions. The Scout Leader can take advantage of the central communication points used by their local institutions (schools, municipalities, etc.) to pass messages through postal mail to the Scouts through their parents, guardians or caregivers.
Markets and Shopping Places
These serve as good meeting points, especially if your community has designated market days. A Scout Leader can issue flyers tailored to reach the Scouts through their parents who attend the markets.
A Scout Leader could take advantage of community forums usually hosted by community leaders to make announcements related Scouting and its programmes and reach out to the members of their group.
Places of Worship
With the predictability of the days of worship and places of worship, a Scout Leader may opt to connect with Scouts at these places or make announcements and connect with these Scouts through religious leaders or parents and caregivers who are members of the different religions.
Safe from harm
Always keep in mind our commitment and priority of keeping Scouts safe when connecting both online and offline directly with young people. Reach out through their parents and use the buddy system for personal messaging. (info-bubble)
Shaping the content
It is important to create Youth Programme material that is easy to access when Internet is not available or limited. This includes small PDFs (low on images and weight), activities that can be done 100% offline and content as text format that can be shared in text messages.
These are only some of the ways in which NSOs and Scout Leaders can connect with their Scouts without relying on the Internet now and even in the future.
How do you connect with your Scouts without internet? Kindly share your story on scout.org